Death's Door Gin is made from a grain base purchased from local farmers. We're told the blend is a combination of red winter heat and malted barley. This base distillate is blended with a neutral spirit to soften the flavor and this final product is given an infusion from juniper berries that are "hand harvested from the open fields of and forests of Washington Island." It contains an elegant three-botanical blend of juniper, coriander, and fennel. We were told that the Wisconsin-made gin has become an export and best-seller in (of all places!) London.
We were told that traditional London Dry gin has a bad name in America but it's because most people have been drinking "bad gin." Death's Door is intended to be a celebration of the pure fragrance and potential of a well-crafted, juniper-forward gin.
Death's Door as a brand was founded in 2005 but opened their own distillery in 2012 under the direction of Brian Ellison with a 2,000 liter 46-stage column still in 25,000 square feet. This completes their plan of moving from contract label work (formerly done by the Wisconsin-based Yahara Bay) and opening their own distillery. Death's Door Spirits is named in honor of the treacherous waters between Washington Island and the Door Peninsula in Lake Michigan near Green Bay. Their stated mission is to use local, fine ingredients grown without pesticide or herbicide. Washington Island wheat forms the basis for many of their spirits selected in cooperation with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and local Washington Island wheat farmers Tom and Ken Koyen. They signed a marketing and distribution partnership with Seralles, the distillery behind Don Q rums (see the press release at Night Club). In an interview with Master Distiller John Jeffries (February, 2013), we learned the new distillery sprang from a desire to exert quality control over all aspects of production during growth. For the $3.5 million investment they will have a capacity of producing 225,000 cases annually. Their operation includes a $100,000 laboratory replete with spectroscopy and chromatography capabilities to meticulously calibrate to the flavors they're looking for.